Wallander author Henning Mankell dies aged 67

The Swedish writer helped turn ‘Nordic noir’ into the phenomenon it is today

Henning Mankell, bestselling writer of the Wallander novels, has died aged 67.


The writer passed away in his sleep in Goteborg, Sweden, according to a statement on his website, which describes him as “one of the great Swedish authors of our time”.

“His books have sold more than 40 million copies and are translated into more than 40 languages,” it continues. “Solidarity with those in need run through his entire work and manifested itself in action until the very end.”

Mankell was diagnosed with cancer in January of last year, and wrote about the experience in his book Quicksand: What It Means to Be a Human Being.

Born in February 1948, Mankell was prolific across multiple genres, writing everything from plays to children’s books. However, he is best known for the gloomy Wallander crime stories, the first of which, Faceless Killers, was published in 1991. 

The novels found a new audience on television, with Swedish versions starring Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henriksson followed by a British remake with Kenneth Branagh as detective Kurt Wallander, a name Mankell once claimed had come straight out of the phonebook.

Branagh paid tribute to Mankell, calling him “a man of passionate commitment”.

“I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity,” said Branagh. “Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandanavian literature.

“His loving family, and those privileged to know him, together with readers from all over the world, will mourn a fine writer and a fine man.”


Mankell is survived by wife Eva Bergman and his son Jon Mankell.